Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Flower of Babyon

I’ll admit it. I wanted a piece of my friend’s passion flower vine simply for its evocative common name (and the possibility of harvesting a passion fruit). I was disappointed to later learn that “passion” referred to the Passion of Christ, not some aphrodisiacal quality of the flower. However, if the flower reminds me of any biblical figure, it would be the illustration of the Harlot of Babylon I remember from My Book of Bible Stories. She was pictured as a heavily-made up woman with wild red locks and a revealing, flowing purple dress. She was dripping with gold jewelry and holding the leash of a viciously snarling, multi-headed, horned dog. To me, she represented power and beauty. Honestly, I wanted to be the Harlot of Babylon when I grew up.

Passiflora is similarly beautiful and powerful. The flowers are strikingly intricate. The decadent fringe (representative of the crown of thorns) resembles wildly colored false eyelashes. The undulating purple stripes remind me of the lights in a pumping discotheque. You may use your own imagination as to what the swollen, upright stigma and pendulous stamens resemble. The bees agree that this is one sexy flower.

The vine itself is extremely vigorous. In its second year, my vine is busily devouring a rose bush, zebra grass, and a fence. (I’m moving it to a better location this fall.) I received my start from a friend who has to mow religiously (pun?) along her fence line to keep suckers at bay. I’m willing to donate my suckers (when they appear) to any plant swappers brave enough to take this lady on.

I am not the first to take a sacrilegious slant on Christ’s flower. In Japan, the flower is a symbol for homosexual youths. I suppose we’re all going to hell. I’ll be there wearing my purple dress and a maypop tucked behind one ear.

Paghat’s Garden website contains a nice article on Passion Flower Symbolism, from religious to profane.


Anonymous Amy said...

I have to say I never expected to read the word "bunghole" in an article about a plant/flower.

11:32 AM  
Blogger Allison said...

What's the range of zones those are hardy in?

11:49 AM  
Blogger Christine said...

I always think "Area 51" when I see 'em.
Mom and my sister are both extremely allergic, but that didn't stop me from getting a cutting a few weeks ago from a neighbor....

12:09 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I just got one the other day--it didn't come with any instructions, other than plant in full sun. I remember seeing them growing wild when I was a child--and yes, we called them maypops, or paw paws. Do you just cut part of the vine off-and do you just root them in water?

Thanks for any help,

3:35 PM  
Blogger Kasmira said...

Allison - I believe they are usually only hardy to zone 7. Many of the passiflora species are actually tropical. I'm in zone 6, but the mother plant and its mother have survived many years in this zone. My plant has so far survived one winter. I think it would do fine for you in Takoma Park.

Nancy - when my friend gave me the sucker, it already had roots. They were very small and I was worried that it wouldn't live, but I was wrong! You could try putting a cutting in water. I may do that myself to propagate some to trade.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Sara said...

I'm growing one of these this year. It's really a nice plant - the flowers are small but so neat! I also like that it's a native. When my dad was a kid, sharecropping in south Georgia, they had great fun stomping on the fruits. They called then "maypops", I assume because the fruit sort of pops if you stomp on it. It's hollow.

8:32 AM  
Anonymous Garden Landscape Junkie said...

The hell with the bees. Passiflora is beautiful AND sexy!

8:41 AM  

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